Ancient burials and artefacts unearthed beneath Lincoln Eastern Bypass site

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Archeological excavations ahead of the construction of the Lincoln Eastern Bypass have revealed historically significant burial grounds, high-status Roman buildings and an armoury of fascinating tools and artefacts.

Past communities, settlements and landscapes have been discovered by a team of more than 60 archaeologists.

Part of a Bronze Age cemetery have been found along with an Iron Age to Roman pre-Christian settlement and burial ground between 1,800 and 2,800 years old.

Pre-Christian burial during excavation

The remains of a 12th century tower on the site is believes to have been used as a possible beacon to warn off approaching threats at the time of the First Battle of Lincoln in 1141.

Investigations have been carried out between the River Witham and Washingborough Road since September to ensure that any remains affected by the new road are protected or recorded.

Aerial view looking east; sites being investigated (Washingborough Road to right)

Discoveries so far also include Mesolithic and Neolithic flint tools, Roman buildings, field systems, pottery kilns and a potential vineyard; a medieval monastic grange comprising a boundary wall, a potential stone tower and other substantial stone buildings.

Roman boundaries discovered as part of the excavations

Bronze Age barbed-and-tanged arrowhead

The remains of post-medieval farm buildings, yards, and a water management system were also revealed on the site by Network Archaeology Ltd.

Company director and senior project manager Chris Taylor said: “The evidence we’ve seen so far suggests that small communities were already living in this area around 12,000 years ago and that it has been a favoured spot for human activity ever since.

“Potentially, the site could yield some very important discoveries. We’ve found signs of a high-status Roman building and, more interestingly, a possible Roman vineyard, which is rare north of the Home Counties.

“Another surprising discovery has been an as-yet-undated cemetery situated close to Washingborough Road, including at least 18 human burials, possibly belonging to a monastic order.

“We’ve also found what could be the remains of a 12th century tower, which may have served as a beacon to warn of approaching threats or as a fort around the time of The Battle of Lincoln in 1141.

“There’s a lot more work to be done before we have the full picture, but what has been unearthed so far suggests it will be well worth the effort.”

Pre-Christian burial with Roman pottery grave goods

Councillor Richard Davies, Executive Member for Highways and Transport a Lincolnshire County Council, said: “When building a new road, it’s not just about just about digging holes and putting in tarmac. Before this can happen, it is very important to undertake work to protect the heritage of the area and look at the archaeology underground before we start building.

“It’s really important that whenever you’re building a big piece of infrastructure, like the Lincoln Eastern Bypass, that work is done to find out what’s gone on here for thousands of years for future generations to learn from and understand.”

The excavations between the River Witham and Washingborough Road will be completed in early 2017 and will be followed by investigations at other sites along the route.

The Lincoln Eastern Bypass project is part-funded by a £50m Central Government capital grant and aims to minimise traffic congestion, support Lincoln’s growth as a principal urban centre, and enhance the inter-city environment.

The £96 million bypass is expected to be completed by 2018.

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